November 20, 2018

Popcorn: “Bridget Jones’s Baby”

Sweet, Cute and Crawls

2 popcorns

By Michael S. Goldberger

film critic

 

While the average gestation period for human women is nine months (280 days to be specific), it sure seems to take a lot longer in the sweet, cute but oh so slow moving “Bridget Jones’s Baby.” Folks who just absolutely love this franchise, featuring Renée Zellweger’s intrepid single gal, perhaps won’t mind the ultra-dawdling exposition, wherein she takes inventory of her unmarried life thus far. As iterated by her properly British, office-seeking Mum, while still (accent on the still) unwed, she has a great job as a TV news producer, and a nice flat. But then there’s the truth.

 

Tsk, tsk. Maybe things will take a turn for the romantically brighter which, after all, is why we’re here. This sister is in a funk. Where’s the knight in shining armor, the little cottage in the country, and the baby, or two? Although Bridget has lost all that weight, and yes it’ll soon be replaced by her impending delicate condition, for the time being she looks great. A lively quick- step to work on a sunny London day fetches her several whistles and a few long looks from some rather nice looking blokes. Still, in her 43rd year, she has resolved to jokily call herself a spinster.

 

The idea is to join her pity party, and from that nadir of her happiness to cheer her on as she goes once more into the breach in search of everlasting love, or at least some reasonable facsimile thereof. However, non-commiserators would here be better served if director Sharon Maguire had simply furnished a quick-clip update of Miss Jones’s social status without the supporting treacle and the accompanying, not so funny jokes. In other words, get on with it, lady.

 

Everything is perfunctory, with a long road leading us to a destination that holds no particular fascination. The story is, after a foray to a music festival where she meets and becomes infatuated, for one night, with millionaire mathematician/love quantifier Jack Qwant (Patrick Dempsey), and a subsequent tryst with almost-divorced, former lover Mark (Colin Firth), she is in a family way but with, alas, no family. We will spend the rest of the film wondering who the baby daddy is, and trying to decide which of the two would be the best husband and father.

 

I’m not so sure this is the right message to send to young viewers, but with the fertilization of an egg, Bridget Jones goes from disconsolate, self-described old maid to highly sought after mother of the heir to one of these suddenly very competitive suitors. These guys have cash. Each has his own way of fluttering his feathers in the hope of convincing her lady fair that he’d be the ideal consort. Of course it’d be a lot simpler if the 43-year-old, termed a geriatric mother by Emma Thompson’s Dr. Rawlings, would submit to the medically recommended amniocentesis.

 

But then the guessing would be over, leaving the resultantly threadbare plot without its gossipy padding, and hence provide nothing to speculate or muse about for the next hour. So expect the usual one-upmanship from both possible dads, none of it especially novel. Of course, as if it’s not enough of a challenge to navigate through this poppa quandary, the three screenwriters deemed it best to have Bridget stressed by a new, young, unsympathetic and ratings-crazed boss (Kate O’ Flynn). Naturally, other, smaller problems smell their way to this vulnerability.

 

There’s not much else to the movie, save for a seemingly unfair, tricky ending that, if I have it right, makes all of our speculation for naught. Gee, thanks for the ride down the blind alley. But let’s face it. With hardly a drama or comedy written these days that doesn’t touch upon the implied naughtiness of procreation without certainty of the expected heir’s exact lineage, this is just old hat anyway. Nope, there’s only one real reason to see “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” and that’s Renée Zellweger.

 

She’s quite good as the whiner extraordinaire who, while she likes her job well enough, has no true passion other than to bemoan her bad luck in finding a suitable mate. Perhaps a hobby might have served to mitigate the panicky self-indulgence. You know, like bird watching. Surely she’d seem less needy and therefore more attractive to would-be beaus. All the same, in this third installment of her trials and tribulations it seems she might have at last stumbled onto an albeit age-old remedy to her singlehood, which puts in question what she’ll now do for an encore?

 

Unmomentous, other than the fact that it set for me a new record for number of times I checked my watch during a movie, “Bridget Jones’s Baby,” while occasionally funny and essentially convivial in its formulaic way, is no bundle of joy.

“Bridget Jones’s Baby,” rated R, is a Universal Pictures release directed by Sharon Maguire and stars Renée Zellweger, Colin Firth and Patrick Dempsey. Running time: 123 minutes

 

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